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State deploys street teams to raise awareness about human trafficking

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
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Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 06, 2023

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Colorado is using a new campaign and street teams to raise awareness.

A team of five women hit the streets of LoHi Friday with the mission to spread awareness about the signs and dangers of human trafficking. Maria Trujillo, human trafficking program manager with the Colorado Department of Public Safety, is leading the charge.

“It happens here in Colorado and that human trafficking can happen to anybody,” said Trujillo. "What we're trying to do is really some grassroots public awareness, like really meet people where they are."

Denver7 joined the street team as they went inside several businesses, like Maci Cafe and The Post Chicken and Beer, to hang stickers on windows, post signs in bathrooms and educate workers, like bartender Gianni Porta.

“I think getting information and awareness is always good so I can recognize things if it does come across,” said Porta. “Getting information out and spreading awareness really makes a difference.”

Since the awareness campaign launched in 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Safety says the number of people being connected to services has doubled. Two hundred human trafficking victims were helped in 2021.

Trujillo says human trafficking is happening all over the state.

“Human trafficking is exploitation of an individual through force, fraud or coercion and making that person participate in some kind of labor,” she explained. “It’s about poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, or lack of family support and connection or having unstable immigration status.”

What are the signs you should look out for?

“There’s that power and control people should be looking at,” said Trujillo.

Things like someone with bruises at different stages of healing, someone speaking for someone else, constant check-ins and someone showing extreme sadness are common signs of human trafficking.

If you suspect human trafficking is taking place, you're encouraged to call the Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline at 866-455-5075.